FATF consensus decision without voting 'diplomatic victory' for Pakistan: minister

24 Oct 2020

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Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar says no voting took place before the FATF reached its decision on Pakistan. — DawnNewsTV
Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar says no voting took place before the FATF reached its decision on Pakistan. — DawnNewsTV

Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar on Saturday said the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) consensus decision to keep Pakistan on the watchdog's 'grey list' for another four months was a "diplomatic victory" for the government.

"FATF has acknowledged our high-level political commitment and significant progress," the minister said in a tweet.

He said some circles were propagating "false and baseless information about abstention or negative voting in the meeting".

Some social media posts had claimed on Friday that a few countries including Afghanistan and India voted against Pakistan at the watchdog's plenary and that some other countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates abstained from the vote.

The minister clarified that no voting criteria was applied for the FATF decision, saying: "Yesterday's consensus decision without any voting is our diplomatic victory."

Azhar said some countries mentioned in the "fake news" were not even members of the FATF.

"Pakistan enjoys broad international support and cooperation on FATF," he added.

Earlier this week, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri had rejected "false media reports" regarding Saudi Arabia's role in the assessment of Pakistan’s FATF action plan, saying the two countries "enjoy strong fraternal ties".

The FATF had announced on Friday that Pakistan will continue to remain on its grey list for another four months till February 2021 for six out of 27 unmet action plan targets on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

“To date, Pakistan has made progress across all action plan items and has now largely addressed 21 of the 27 action items. As all action plan deadlines have expired, the FATF strongly urges Pakistan to swiftly complete its full action plan by February 2021,” the watchdog said in a statement. “The FATF takes note of the significant progress made on a number of action plan items,” it added.

The next plenary is due on Feb 21-26.

Pakistan welcomed the outcome, saying “this is indicative of the confidence of the FATF on the efforts of Pakistani government”.

The industries minister, who led the Pakistani delegation to the virtual plenary, said: “Blacklisting Pakistan was now off the table.”

FATF had formally placed Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 due to ‘strategic deficiencies’ in its AML/CFT regime after a push from India supported by the United States, the United Kingdom and some other European countries. Pakistan then committed at the highest level to a 27-point action plan, but failed to meet deadlines.

The action plan items that have been addressed by Pakistan include highly important areas of financial sector, illegal hawala/hundi, cross-border currency regime, international cooperation in terrorist financing cases, amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act, implementation of targeted financial sanctions by financial institutions, applying sanctions for AML/CFT violations and controlling facilities and services owned or controlled by designated persons and entities.

However, in view of the six items in “Partially Addressed” category, the plenary meeting decided to maintain status quo with respect to classification of Pakistan, for the time being. Considerable work has already been carried out on these six items and Pakistan would continue to make efforts to complete the remaining items in line with its strategy by February 2021, the finance ministry said.